The Multiple Sum Debate

October 3, 2008

After every debate, analysts and commentators always talk about who “won” the debate, but debates are often not zero sum games (I win, you lose) because the debaters are often talking to different consituencies.  That was never more true than the VP debate last night.

VP debates rarely if ever move the needle on the presidential vote; rather, they’re about the relationship the candidate has to his or her own supporters.  In that case, both candidates won: Biden proved he was disciplined and very strong (although he’d proven that even more effectively during the primary debates), and Palin showed she can deliver prepared material, and in the words of Dana Milbank, she passed “what may have been the most public IQ test ever administered.”

But just barely.